BC Hydro survey finds that most British Columbians overestimate their swimming abilities. (Photo courtesy of Jeanne Hasenmiller)

British Columbians overestimate their swimming abilities, survey finds

Thirty per cent of people polled by BC Hydro said they’ve had a near drowning experience

British Columbians are overconfident in their swimming abilities, which could be leading to an increase in swimming-related incidents, a new BC Hydro report suggests.

The survey, which polled 600 people, found that 85 per cent of British Columbians considered themselves experienced swimmers – despite most only going into the water a few times a year. Ten per cent of respondents said they’ve never completed a swimming lesson.

The survey also found that 30 per cent of people polled have had a near drowning experience, and another 53 per cent have witnessed a person in distress while in the water.

Unsafe behaviours are also cited as a reason for increase in water incidents. Almost half of respondents said they’ve gone into the water under the influence of alcohol or cannabis – a decision men are 30 per cent more likely to make than women.

The province sees an average of 76 drowning deaths per year, according the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit.

READ MORE: Good Samaritan recalls diving in to try to rescue young man who drowned at B.C. lake

Staying vigilant is especially important with children. Drowning is the second-most common cause of death for children under five years old in Canada. BC Hydro’s survey found that 40 per cent of parents said that they have been distracted when their children were in the water.

BC Hydro manages 19 recreation areas including parks and beaches near power-generating dam sites that draw two million visitors annually. More people are expected this year as vacationers stay near home due to the ongoing pandemic.

The report says 20 per cent of those surveyed admitted to swimming out of bounds. Men were 70 per cent more likely than women to venture into those areas.

“This is especially dangerous at BC Hydro’s recreation sites,” the report says. “Many of these sites are located on working reservoirs, meaning there are dam structures that can be dangerous if signage is not obeyed and distance is not maintained.”

BC Hydro offered some recommendations for people looking to visit their recreation sites over the summer. These include that people avoid that sense of security, to never leave children unsupervised and to understand the water situation before people get in, as well as never getting into the water while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

They also warned to always check the water temperature and to be conscious that water levels can change quickly at uncontrolled sites.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. mogul sells Naikoon properties to parks system in $1 million deal

NIHO founder Rudy Nielsen sells 320 acres to BC Parks; Ministry statement expected in ‘coming months’

B.C. premier ‘not going to be apologetic’ about closure of Haida Gwaii fishing lodges

Horgan says ‘public health takes the priority’ over business in implementation of travel restriction

Regional district proposes closure of unmonitored recycling bins, new depot for Masset

Proposed updates to Solid Waste Management Plan aim to reduce waste on Haida Gwaii, save money

Rainmakers of Haida Gwaii set to perform for Special Woodstock

20th festival will feature musicians with special needs and other bands from around the world

Boon Docs comics illustrate Haida Gwaii health staff ‘Behind the Mask’

Family doctor and cartoonist Caroline Shooner shares inspiration for new comic series

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada vows retaliatory measures as Trump restores tariff on Canadian aluminum

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Most Read